Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.
Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.
This course introduces students to the elements of fiction writing. While each section of the course varies in approach and structure, activities and assignments may include intensive reading, workshops, writing, short and flash fiction, and exercises emphasizing various aspects of fiction such as place, dialogue and character. Students should check the online schedule for specific descriptions of each section. This counts toward the emphasis in creative writing and the creative practice requirement for the major. Admission to this course is open, though students may not take it in the first semester of their first year. Seats are reserved for students in each class year. Offered every year.
This course begins with two premises: that students of the craft of poetry should be challenged to write in as many different ways as possible and that students are individual writers with different needs and goals. In this course, we study a variety of types of poetry. Regular writing exercises encourage students to widen their scope and develop their craft. The course emphasizes discovering the "true" subject of each poem, acquiring the skills needed to render that subject, understanding the relationship between form and content and, finally, interrogating the role and function of poetry in a culture. In addition to weekly reading and writing assignments, students submit a process-based portfolio demonstrating an understanding of the revision process and a final chapbook of eight to twelve pages of poetry. This counts toward the emphasis in creative writing and the creative practice requirement for the major. Admission is open, though students may not take this course in the first semester of their first year. Seats are reserved for students in each class year. Offered every year.
Students in this workshop write imaginative nonfiction in any of its traditional forms: memoirs, reflections, polemics, chronicles, idylls, lampoons, monographs, pamphlets, profiles, reviews, prefaces, sketches, remarks, complaints — anything but the traditional college essay. As in other writing workshops, attention in class is paid above all to the writing itself, word by word, sentence by sentence. This counts toward the emphasis in creative writing and the creative practice requirement for the major. Admission is open, though students may not take this course in the first semester of their first year. Seats are reserved for students in each class year. Offered most years.
This course is an introductory workshop in which students develop skills in a range of narrative strategies, reading a variety of texts: fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and graphic novels and memoirs, as well as blog essays and other relatively new formats and styles of literary expression. As these multiple forms are explored in the course of the semester, students write new material each week, with an emphasis on understanding structure, pace, setting, time, dialogue, character and narrative voice. Students are encouraged to experiment with fiction and nonfiction approaches to the same material. The workshop pays rigorous attention to language and form, sentence by sentence, and focuses on developing insights and strategies for revision. Students in this class are assumed to possess basic English writing competence and mature ability to give and receive thoughtful criticism. This counts toward the emphasis in creative writing and the creative practice requirement for the major. Admission is open, though students may not take this course in the first semester of their first year. Seats are reserved for students in each class year.
This open-enrollment course gives students the opportunity to develop as creative writers and readers through a series of writing assignments and workshops. In addition to poetry and short fiction, areas of focus may include creative essay, playwriting, screenwriting and multimedia works. Students conclude the course by revising and polishing a selection of their original work as a final portfolio. This counts toward the emphasis in creative writing and the creative practice requirement for the major. Seats are reserved for each class year. Students may not take this course in the first semester of their first year.
In recent years, there has been a renaissance of science writing for the common reader that combines literary and scientific merit, from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat," and from Dava Sobel's "Longitude" to Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Such book explore scientific questions in a style that transcends the conventions of academic science writing or popular history, bringing important questions from physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics to wider public attention. Short-form science journalism has become one of the most important areas of literary nonfiction, recognized both by annual awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and two different series of Best of American Science Writing anthologies. This interdisciplinary science writing course combines literary analysis of exemplary essays on scientific topics with a writing workshop that requires students to closely observe scientific processes, conduct independent research and interviews, interpret data, and present scientific information in highly readable form. Weekly readings are selected from prize-winning science essays and the Best of American Science and Nature Writing series. We may also read one book-length work of science writing. Weekly writing assignments include journals, observational accounts of science experiments, exercises in interpreting scientific data, interviews, narratives and a substantial research essay. This counts toward the creative practice and post-1900 requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
"We think back through our mothers if we are women," Virginia Woolf writes in "A Room of One's Own." Taking Woolf's meditation on women and creativity as our point of departure, we examine a range of fictional, poetic and polemical writing produced by British women from the late 18th century through the early 20th century, a period that witnessed increases in the literary and cultural opportunities available to female writers, as well as challenges to those opportunities. We explore debates over "proper" education for women; the role of culturally sanctioned "plots" (most notably, romance and marriage plots) in shaping women's lives and narratives; complex negotiations between public and private experience, particularly between work and domesticity; and the aims and achievements of women's activist and political writings. When has it been possible, or desirable, for female writers to "think back through (their) mothers"? If a tradition of women's writing exists, what motivates and characterizes it? How did these women writers create new plots — or terminate familiar ones — in response to incommensurable or uncontainable desires and allegiances? How did these writers respond to traditions they inherited from their predecessors, whether male or female? Course authors include Woolf, Wollstonecraft, Austen, Gaskell, Eliot and Barrett Browning, among others. Students write two essays and take a final exam. This counts toward the 1700-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
Autobiographical writing allows us to study the complicated cultural and personal dynamics of self-making, as individual authors define (and show themselves to have been defined by) their sociohistorical circumstances. How do writers confront or capitalize on such intersections of the personal and the historical? How and why do autobiographers translate life experiences into writing? How do they grapple with elements of experience that are difficult to represent in language? Is truth necessary to — or even possible in — autobiographical writing? How have writers' gendered, sexualized, classed, raced or geographically located identities shaped the possibilities and purposes of autobiographical narrative? And where is the line between autobiography and biography? In this survey of classic and experimental autobiographical texts, as well as of major developments in autobiographical theory, we consider broad questions of identity, time and memory, and narrative through close attention to specific works' subjects, structures and histories. Authors may include Augustine, Thomas De Quincey, Harriet Jacobs, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Malcolm X, Maxine Hong Kingston and Art Spiegelman, among others. Students write two essays and several reading response papers, and lead one class discussion. This counts toward the creative practice and post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
What is “the literary,” and how can it be studied? How do distinct methods of reading impact the ways a text is understood to produce meaning and knowledge? What are the conditions and limits of such methods? This course investigates encounters between the literary and theory. As we compare how theorists have approached “the literary” across time and place, so too we press up against what constitutes “theory” and according to whom. Is there something literary about theory itself? By surveying major innovations and interventions in literary theory over the past century, we trace the political histories of reading as a practice of imagining the world otherwise, all the while interrogating ideology and injustice, identity and alterity, ethics and aesthetics, representation and relationality. We study the craft of critical inquiry while considering how literary and theoretical texts may resist and recast the very questions we ask. Our aim is dialogic exchange; in other words, beyond applying a given approach to a given text, we seek to surmise how literature and theory challenge and contest each other in practice. We may encounter works of Marxism, structuralism and poststructuralism, post- and anti-colonialism, queer and transfeminisms, critical race theory, abolition, affect theory, psychoanalysis and critical pedagogy alongside an array of literary works. The theoretical focus of this course may vary; for more information, students should contact the instructor. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
From basic techniques of critical analysis to far-reaching questions about language, literature, culture and aesthetics, this course introduces students to many of the fundamental issues, methods and skills of the English major. Topics range from the pragmatic (e.g., how do you scan a poem? What is free indirect discourse? How do you use the M-LA bibliography, OED, JSTOR?) to the theoretical (How does a genre evolve in response to different historical conditions? What is the nature of canons and canonicity? Why are questions of race, class, gender and sexuality so important to literary and cultural analysis?). Students are given many hands-on opportunities to practice new skills and analytic techniques and to explore a range of critical and theoretical paradigms, approaches which should serve them well throughout their careers as English majors. Our discussions focus on representative texts taken from three genres: drama (Shakespeare's "The Tempest"), the novel (Shelley's "Frankenstein"; Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway") and lyric poetry (a variety of poems representing four centuries and several traditions). This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Strongly recommended for anyone contemplating an English major.
How do you read gender? How do you read sexuality? How and in what ways have gender and sexuality been written and rewritten? This course serves as an introduction to queer and transfeminist theories and practices in gender and sexuality studies. Conceptualized through its intersections with race, ethnicity, coloniality, class and ability, the sex/gender system of oppression has long served as a taxonomizing apparatus. And yet, the literary, in league with anticolonial, civil rights and LGBTQ social movements, not only sheds sharp light on how gender and sexuality are regulated and troubled, but also animates the liberatory potential of imagining embodied relations otherwise. At once world-building and world-shattering, representations of gender and sexuality can leverage critiques against normativity in the same gesture as they bow to reproducing it. Taking our transnational cue from subjugated knowledges and intersectional epistemologies, we constellate the diverging genealogies and methodologies that have shaped the politics and aesthetics as well as the ethics and affects of gender and sexuality. Against the traffic of binary opposition, we index the possibilities of intimacy and performativity that determine desiring subjects and their objects. As a class collective, our aim is to read and reread as well as write and rewrite texts that interrogate and complicate how gender and sexuality, as contested sites of pleasure and pain, are embodied and experienced. The geographic and generic focus of this course may vary; for more information, students should contact the instructor. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of prosody and poetics. "Ecstasy affords the occasion" for poetry, Marianne Moore wrote, "and expediency determines the form." We read poems from a broad range of historical periods in a range of forms (sapphics, syllabics, sonnets, sestinas, etc.), as well as statements by poets, critics and theorists about the aims and effects of poetic form. In addition to a series of short critical analyses of poetry, students practice writing in the forms studied. This counts toward the creative practice or methods requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Only open to first-year and sophomore students. Offered every two years.
This course introduces students to a range of critical methods, interpretive strategies and approaches to literature as we explore connections among theories of comedy and comic texts. Jokes, puns and the language of comedy; the carnivalesque; the role of laughter; the relation of comedy to aggression and violence; the depiction of gender; the comedy of manners; utopian social impulses; and the cultural work of comedy: These issues shape our attempt to explore traditional and contemporary definitions of the genre. Authors studied include Shakespeare, Austen, Wilde, Shaw, O'Connor, Woody Allen and David Sedaris. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
In this course, students are trained to become writing center tutors. Throughout the course, they advance their creative processes while learning how to support the processes of others. Objectives for this course include: learning a wide range of rhetorical, literary, and theoretical writing strategies; connecting theory with practical experience and reflective practice in order to learn more about how best to engage with different kinds of student writers and different forms of academic writing; questioning assumptions about writing in order to begin establishing a perspective for self-evaluation and assessment: becoming more confident at employing a wider range of writing skills; learning by doing in shadowing an experienced tutor; and developing skills to engage with writers across the disciplines and academic levels in a variety of recursive processes for exploration, composition, and revision.
This course is an introduction to the theory of narrative, through reference to five paradigmatic narrative texts: Daniel Defoe’s "Robinson Crusoe," Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice," Charles Dickens’ "Great Expectations," Frederick Douglass’ "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave," and Henry James’ "The Portrait of a Lady." Main topics include the essentials of narrative form (plot, character, voice, perspective) as well as their different functions (aesthetic, social, cognitive). Discussions explore a wide range of issues including the power of narrative closure, the narrative representation of the individual mind, how narrative patterns time, the development of realism across the history of the novel, the practice of narrative in psychology and medicine, and the ethics of narrative engagement. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. It is open only to first-year and sophomore students.
An introduction to the major plays, this course emphasizes questions of language and modes of reading as the entryway into key themes and topics (e.g., gender, identity, kin/g/ship, desire) within the Shakespearean corpus. An initial in-depth study of a single play enables us to acquire a base knowledge of rhetorical strategies, considerations of performance and thematic development that we subsequently apply to our readings of other plays. Assignments reinforce reading and writing strategies. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course is a seminar in the general field of Old and Middle English literature. Class meetings are conducted in a combination seminar and workshop fashion. The primary work of the course is reading and translating Anglo-Saxon prose and poetry, supplemented by readings in Anglo-Saxon culture and history. First-year and sophomore students with an interest in medieval literature are particularly welcome, but this course is open to all without regard for major or class year. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major.
We read the most important works written in Middle English by women, placing these in the context of continental traditions of women's writing. Our readings range across time, space and genre: from the letters exchanged by history's most famous ill-fated lovers (Abelard and Heloise) to some of the most sophisticated works of theology produced in the Middle Ages (by Julian of Norwich and Hildegard von Bingen) and to the first autobiography in English, in which a married mother of 14 travels around the world on pilgrimage, challenging clerics and stirring up trouble along the way ("The Book of Margery Kempe"). We also read writing by women in lesser-known genres: purgatory vision letters, parenting manuals and some of the advice and conduct literature written by men that shaped expectations of female behavior. Most texts are in modern translation, with a few short pieces in Middle English (no previous experience expected). This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
Chaucer's final great work (profound, moving, sometimes disturbing, often hilarious) can be considered both a medieval anthology and a framed, self-referential narrative anticipating modern forms and modern questions. Reading in Middle English and exploring the social and historical contexts of Chaucer's fictions, we pay special attention to his preoccupations with the questions of experience and authority, the literary representation of women, the power of art, and the status of literature itself. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
J.R.R. Tolkien was not just a beloved novelist but also a distinguished scholar who edited, translated and analyzed medieval poetry including "Beowulf," "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." In this course, we study the literature that gave rise to Tolkien's fiction in order to explore how medieval literature continues to shape contemporary popular culture. In this vein, our reading of medieval texts pays particular attention to "popular" genres such as purgatory vision narratives, romances and drama. While our reading primarily focuses on the medieval narratives that inspired Tolkien, there are occasional student-led opportunities to connect this medieval material to Tolkien's own fiction and poetry. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
From the invention of Valentine's Day to the notion of love as a sickness and to the articulation of courtship as a game with specific rules, many of our ideas about and expectations for romantic love come to us from medieval literature. Yet in the popular medieval genre of adventure story known as "romance," things do not always go according to love's rules: Men fall in love with other men, women resist getting married, and married women seduce their unsuspecting houseguests. In this course, we explore the complex messages about love and sex encoded in medieval romances. Our readings include poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer, the anonymous romances "Roman de Silence" and "Amis and Amiloun," Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's "Romance of the Rose," and the rules of love offered by both Ovid and Capellanus, as well as other medieval texts and contemporary works of theory and criticism. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course examines the profound cultural matrix that shaped the golden age of English literature. It focuses on nondramatic poetry — especially that of Sidney, Shakespeare and Spenser — with attention to the development of the Renaissance lyric and the Renaissance conception of the vocation of poet. The sonnet is studied extensively in relation to gender and love relations, and to the cult of the individual. We also examine the origins of Elizabethan drama and the relation of emblem, allegory and spectacle to Elizabethan drama and epic. How does Elizabethan literature represent, celebrate and critique the power relations found in Renaissance social institutions? Using contemporary critical and cultural theory, we analyze the roots of Elizabethan nationalism, the emergence of London as a central literary milieu and the iconic dominance of Queen Elizabeth in the literary and cultural landscape of the late 16th century. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This study of the Renaissance poem opens up a delicate world of intensely structured language. We develop strategies of micro- and macro-reading for understanding how sparks of meaning lattice across a poem to create a whole effect: We see how a single letter can change everything, how much a single word can do, a single line, a stanza within a poem, an entire sonnet within a series of sonnets. We explore ways poems draw us into their worlds by transforming us into the "I" of the lyric speaker, by articulating our own emotions in a beautiful and intricate arrangement of words designed to amplify or soothe. In the light of early modern poetic studies as well as contemporary methodologies (e.g., George Puttenham, Roman Jakobson), this course examines the major Renaissance poetic movements and poetics of the 16th and early 17th centuries, including the works of sonneteers, popular ballad writers, the Cavalier Poets, the Metaphysical Poets and others. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
When T. S. Eliot declared that there had been a disassociation of sensibility that set in after the early 17th-century Metaphysical Poets, he was deliberately claiming a connection between his own work and the writing from this earlier period that he admired. This course investigates this affinity between early modern literature and the literature of the 20th century. In the process, we consider the importance of early modern literature in forming the critical taste and formalist methods of reading that were central to the New Criticism. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.
This course serves as an introduction to British literature and culture of the Restoration and early 18th century (c. 1660-1745). This period witnessed profound national transformations: the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660 with Charles II’s return from exile and the 1707 Act of Union, which joined Scotland to England and Wales. A burgeoning literary marketplace and leisure class facilitated the development of literary forms like the novel and a return to the theaters. The rise of Enlightenment thinking, which privileged reason and sensory experience, began to shape larger cultural discourses about the future of the British nation and the nature of man that would culminate in a series of revolutions by the end of the century. Focusing on the theme of embodiment, we consider how writers in this period imagined bodies both within and without the British Isles. How did 18th-century literature attempt to represent bodies and the relationship between bodies in the face of ongoing debates about what constituted humanness? How did these writers conceive of racial, gender or sexual difference, and to what ends? Which bodies mattered, and which were only fictions or even unworthy of representation at all?
This course prepares students to read and analyze both primary sources from the period and secondary sources that model different critical approaches. The course assignments also prepare students to think across multiple texts and draw them together in clear, nuanced arguments that link form and content. The course also trains students to think about literary texts within their historical contexts and trace continuities from the 18th century to the present. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-years and sophomores.
This course presents a survey of 18th-century literature from Jonathan Swift to such writers of the 1790s and early 19th century as Mary Wollstonecraft, Olaudah Equiano and Maria Edgeworth. Early 18th-century literature is dominated by satirical works that ostensibly aim at reform through ridicule, even while the great satirists doubt that such an aim can be achieved. Beginning in mid-century, the literary movement of sentimentalism and sensibility rejects the satirical impulse and embraces sympathy, immediacy and the "man of feeling." Throughout the period — indeed already satirized by Swift and Pope — Enlightenment ideals are explored and debated in a new public sphere. These ideals include progress, secularism, universal rights, the systematization of knowledge and the growth of liberty through print and education. Through an examination of works in a variety of literary genres (prose and verse satire, periodical essay, novel, tragedy, comedy, descriptive and lyric poetry, and travel writing), the course introduces students to such authors as Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke and Thomas Gray. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course focuses on the lyric poetry of the Romantic period, from William Cowper to John Keats. We also consider criticism, autobiographical writing, essays and novels by William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Keats. In this course, we investigate two central claims: first, that Romantic poetry is not simply nature poetry but rather philosophical poetry about the interrelationship between natural objects and the human subject; and second that Romanticism develops a notion of aesthetic autonomy out of very specific political and historical engagements. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
"What art's for a woman?" asks Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her question was echoed by many other writers throughout the 19th century, nonetheless — or all the more — a great age for literary women. This course introduces major writers of the Romantic and Victorian periods, exploring the relationships between their lives and works, and examining issues such as women as readers; the education of women; the changing roles of women in the home, workplace and community; the growth of the reading public; and the gendering of authorship. We consider relations between genres as we read fiction ("Gothic" and "realistic" novels), poetry, letters, journals, biography, autobiography and essays on education, travel, literature and politics. Authors include Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Florence Nightingale, George Eliot and Christina Rossetti. This counts toward the 1700-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Offered two of every three years.
"Modernism" refers to art that aimed to break with the past and create innovative new forms of expression. The modernists, writing between 1890 and 1939, tried in various ways to make literature newly responsive to the movements of a rapidly changing modern world. Alienated by the upheavals of modernity — or inspired by modern discoveries and developments in psychology, technology and world culture — modernist literature reflects new horrors and traces new modes of insight. Experimental, often difficult and shocking, modernist literature pushes language to its limits and tests the boundaries of art and perception. This course studies the nature and development of modernist literature, reading key texts in the context of the theoretical doctrines and cultural movements that helped to produce them. The key texts include poetry and fiction by T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, William Faulkner and Ezra Pound. The secondary material includes essays, paintings and manifestoes produced at the moment of modernism, as well as later criticism that helps explain what modernism was all about. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Offered every year.
This course surveys two centuries of "Irish Classics" by reading, in translation, poems and narratives from the vibrant Gaelic literary tradition and by returning to their Irish milieu a number of classic texts that have been conscripted into the canon of "English Literature." We encounter "the greatest poem written in these islands in the whole 18th century," according to one critic — a traditional keen composed by an Irishwoman over the body of her murdered husband — and read Maria Edgeworth's "Castle Rackrent," "the first significant English novel to speak in the words of the colonized," according to another critic. We ask what happens to Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" or Oscar Wilde's glittering "The Importance of Being Earnest" or Bram Stoker's brooding "Dracula" when restored to a Hibernian context. We read a bawdy Irish epic once banned in Ireland, analyze early lyrics by W.B. Yeats, consider Joyce's "Dubliners," and conclude with some rousing examples of the Irish political ballad. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
In this class, we explore how cities are written — not only how they are written about, but also how they are constructed, both imaginatively and concretely, through disciplines ranging from poetry to architecture. In doing so, we try to understand how cities give rise to modern literature and to modernity more generally. In the works of novelists that may include Dickens, Bellow, Balzac, Ellison, Joyce, Zadie Smith, Rushdie and Woolf, we consider urban landscapes that offer unprecedented economic, political, social and intellectual opportunities. At the same time, we see how urban life threatens to increase the commodification of experience and how new organizations of social space impose ever greater levels of control and surveillance, calling for new tactics in both literature and daily life. By reading poets such as Apollinaire, Ashbery, Baudelaire, Brooks, Cullen, Eliot, Hughes, McKay, O'Hara, Williams and Whitman, we explore the role of the crowd, its race and its class. Theoretical works by authors such as Jean Baudrillard, Houston Baker, Walter Benjamin, Michel De Certeau, Ann Douglas, Jane Jacobs, Frederick Jameson, Le Corbusier and Lewis Mumford frame discussions of literary texts. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
An expression commonly used in relation to travel, the phrase “in transit” is defined as the passage or journey from one place or point to another. In this course, we read and analyze a diversity of literary texts that deal with the theme of being “in transit.” Through the exploration of short stories, novels and film, we grapple with the following questions: What does being in transit mean for the individual as well as for the community? How do writers imagine the transitions, (trans)formations and intersections of gender, race, class and sexuality that take place during such crossings? What are the geopolitical implications of travel? Are ‘breaks’ in the journey imagined as disruptions or continuities with the places/spaces of departure/arrival? How do writers imagine ‘becoming stuck’ in a place previously imagined to be transitory and fluid, moving toward a clear destination? What makes up the gamut of affective or emotional experiences that accompany the process of being in transit? We read the following texts: Charles Dickens’ "Great Expectations," Earl Lovelace’s "The Dragon Can’t Dance," Tayari Jones’ "An American Marriage," Laila Lalami’s "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits," Edwidge Danticat’s "Claire of the Sea Light" and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s “Sultana’s Dream." This course is taught at the Richland Correctional Institution. Transportation is provided. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
In his "Critique of Violence," the German philosopher Walter Benjamin raises the question: "Is any nonviolent resolution of conflict possible?" In this course, we investigate this question through an exploration of literary and theoretical writings that shed light on the historical experience of decolonization. Decolonization was often imagined as a "new day," free from oppression and strife. In reality, however, independence from the colonizer was almost always marked by many manifestations of violence. Why was decolonization such a violent phenomenon? How did violence express itself in response to race, class, gender, and religious and linguistic difference? How did the various anticolonial nationalisms imagine everyday life after independence? How was literature — novels, poems, short stories, plays and film — shaped by the struggles of anticolonial resistance and decolonization? And finally, how do fictional texts represent everyday life after decolonization? These are some of the questions that we explore course. We begin with an exploration of a few critical writings on violence: Frantz Fanon's "Concerning Violence," Walter Benjamin's "Critique of Violence," Mohandas K. Gandhi's "Hindu Swaraj," Hannah Arendt's "Reflections on Violence" and excerpts from Edward Said's "Culture and Imperialism." We use the questions and responses that we generate from our discussion of these theoretical texts to frame our subsequent analyses of literary texts. Those texts include writing from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Trinidad, Jamaica and Zimbabwe. Rabindranath Tagore's "The Home and the World," Earl Lovelace's "The Dragon Can't Dance," Shyam Selvadurai's "Funny Boy," Michael Ondaatje's "Anil's Ghost," Tsitsi Dangarembga's "Nervous Conditions" and Baburao Bagul's "Mother" are some of the works that we read in the context of the course. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course serves as an introduction to the fields of health humanities and disability studies. Structured around four thematic clusters, this class explores the political, ethical and cultural dimensions of representing illness and disability across different genres from novels to films. How do such representations affirm, challenge or reimagine notions of illness and disability at different scales from the individual to the collective? We consider not just how sick and disabled people narrate their own experiences but also how physicians and medical practitioners reflect on their own experience in the clinic. What ends do these many narratives serve, and what are their limits and affordances? What experiences and identities escape or exceed narrative? How do the humanities uniquely prepare us to address these questions? This course is reading-intensive, engaging with both primary and secondary texts, the latter of which model different critical approaches in the interdisciplinary fields of health humanities and disability studies. This course prepares students to assess and interpret different narrative forms centered on illness, disability and health. Course assignments challenge students to think across these forms and to integrate them in well-supported, nuanced argumentative writing. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course explores Anglophone literature from 1945 to the present through the lens of the catastrophic imaginaries of global climate change. We examine carefully how writers have theorized, imagined and represented the topic of environmental emergency in their works with inventive strategies that foreground racial, gender, economic and environmental justice. In particular, we encounter how these writers understand hope and justice in the world to come. Questions we consider: What is climate justice? What traces of nuclear rhetoric do we find in climate change literature? What does it mean to know — and resist — our extinction? What is hope in a prolonged emergency? In addition to reading some of the theoretical texts in the environmental humanities, we attend carefully to the local impacts of climate change in Knox County. Students produce research-driven projects that connect the local and global conditions of a changing world. Texts may include works by Craig Santos Perez, Kathy Jetn il-Kijiner, Keri Hulme, David Eggleton, Evelyn Flores, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler and Amitav Ghosh. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Only open to first-year and sophomore students.
Through an exploration of fiction, poetry, short stories, critical essays, film and music, this course attempts to get a sense of the diversity of Caribbean literature. We read texts from, and about, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados and many other islands. Adopting an intersectional approach, we examine how race, class, gender, sexuality and migration are represented in these texts, paying particular attention to the transnational mobilities and intimacies of bodies, languages, cultural practices and intergenerational memory. Some questions we address: How did anti-colonial writers and poets critique colonial rule and imagine independence and decolonization? How might other cultural forms — Carnival, steel pan, calypso, hip-hop and cricket — enter into the literary and cultural imagination? How is the middle passage invoked, imagined and deployed as a way of representing Caribbean history as well as subsequent transnational crossings? Comparatively, how might the crossing of the Kala pani (the black waters) by indentured labor from China and India be imagined? How might “islands” and the “ocean” inform the Caribbean aesthetic? And finally, what counts as Caribbean literature? We read texts by C.L.R James, Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Jean Rhys, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Shani Mootoo, Ramabai Espinet, Marlene NourbesSe Philip, Merle Hodge, Andrea Levy, Dionne Brand, Nalo Hopkinson, Edwidge Danticat and David Chariandy, among others. This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Only open to first-year and sophomore students.
Since it was first awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize has been considered one of the most important prizes in literary fiction written in English. Its influence and reach have only increased since 2014, when the award’s initial focus on Commonwealth, Irish and South African writers expanded the field to include all novels written in English. Winning the Booker signals that the novel has literary value and speaks to the concerns of society at a particular moment. The prize’s cachet invariably has a strong positive effect on book sales and thus the writer's ability to continue writing and publishing. But, as with many prizes, the relationship between literary merit and economic success is complicated. This course, then, has two distinct aims: It first uses the Booker Prize to explore the aesthetics of literary fiction in a global literary marketplace. What do the books we read in the course tell us about what kind of writing is deserving of an award? That is, how does the selection of the Booker shortlist offer new insights into genre, the formation of a literary canon and the category of national fiction? Closely connected is the second aim, centering on the politics of the Booker. As we learn the history of the prize — the controversies it has generated, the changes it has made and the critiques leveled against it — we focus our attention on the most recent of these. Using a postcolonial critical approach, we examine the implications of extending eligibility to all literary fiction in English regardless of nationality. Adding to our discussion of national literature and the literary canon, then, what additional insights do we gain on ideology, hegemony and representation? To get a sense of the complexity of these discussions, we each examine a different shortlisted novel of the most recent year and read a novel that has been awarded the International Booker Prize. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Only open to first-year and sophomore students.
This course serves as an introduction to the literature and film produced by and about U.S. Latinos and Latinas, and to the theoretical approaches, such as borderlands theory, which have arisen from the lived experience of this diverse group. By focusing on the Latino/a experience and situating it squarely within an American literary tradition, the course examines the intersections of national origin or ancestry with other identity markers such as gender, race and sexuality. We take an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to connect literature and film with history, political science, psychology, art, sociology and so on. Thus, students read not only literary works, both visual and written, but also related works in other disciplines that speak to the issues raised by the texts. Specifically, the course critically explores the effects and literary expressions of internal and external migration, displacement and belonging, nation and citizenship, code-switching and other ways in which Latinos and Latinas have made sense of their experiences in the United States. Beginning with 16th-century accounts by Spaniards in areas that would eventually become part of the United States and moving to the present day, the class familiarizes students with the culture(s) of a group that plays an important role in our national narrative, and with the issues that this group grapples with on our national stage. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Only open to first-year and sophomore students.
The late 19th century was a pivotal moment in African American social and intellectual history. During Reconstruction, African Americans were elected to positions in state and national government. Later in the century, however, unprecedented racial violence threatened the social, political and economic gains achieved during Reconstruction. As the nation as a whole was still attempting to heal the wounds of sectional division caused by the Civil War, African Americans were also meditating on what it means to be a people. African American literature written during this time incorporates such meditations, chronicling African Americans' attempt to negotiate between the two poles of hope and hate, and urging individual readers to commit to the common cause of racial uplift. This counts toward the 1700-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
Modernist literature was written under the injunction to "make it new." Our discussion focuses on how American modernist writers made it new — and what "it" was, in each case, that they made. We pay particular attention to the problematics of gender and sexuality and to the permeability of gender boundaries that produced such figures as Djuna Barnes' Dr. O'Connor, T.S. Eliot's Tiresias and Ernest Hemingway's Jake Barnes. In addition to these three writers, we read selections from Stein, Faulkner, Hughes, Williams and Larsen, among others. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major and toward the American studies major/concentration. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
An introduction to the field of Native American studies, this interdisciplinary course critically examines an array of cultural expression by contemporary Native writers, filmmakers, visual artists and performers. While the course emphasizes the way Native people represent themselves, we begin with the powerful stereotypes of Native Americans that continue to circulate (hence, the unlearning aspect of the course), then look to the ways Native artists and writers appropriate, refute and rewrite these images. As we read, screen and listen, we attend to the political, regional and tribal contexts informing these works, through supplementary reading in history, political science, gender studies and other disciplines. Key critical issues include nation and sovereignty, indigenous feminism and two spirit traditions, displacement and community, and the role of humor. Texts to be studied may include "Storyteller" by Leslie Marmon Silko, "Bad Indians" by Deborah Miranda, "When My Brother Was an Aztec" by Natalie Diaz; such films as "Reel Injun," "Smoke Signals" and "The Fast Runner"; and work by such visual and performing artists as the 1491s, Steven Paul Judd and Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course engages questions such as: "How have U.S. writers and filmmakers represented fear, and why?" "What are the major themes in American horror?" "What is the relationship of American horror to American history and to ongoing national issues, especially those involving race, class, sexuality and gender?" To answer these questions, we conduct close-reading analysis, read critical and theoretical essays, and apply historicist and cultural-studies approaches to examine specifically "American" novels, short stories and films that seek to incite fear in one way or another. We look at canonical works, such as those of Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James, and at works considered "mass market," such as those of Stephen King and the film "Jaws". Our mission is to uncover how these texts are cast as specifically "American" and why this is significant to our understanding of the texts and their historical contexts. We also compare how the written and visual "fears" between the texts, and between written texts and films, work differently and similarly. This counts toward either the 1700-1900 or the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
Race, class, gender, religion: These categories can be the basis of identity politics that divide as much as they unite. This course considers the significance in American literary texts of friendships that transgress these categorical divisions. We contemplate what makes such transgression possible in individual instances, and why these instances are so exceptional. We expand the discussion to explore the tension between the individual and the community in the formation of identity. Texts are likely to include Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," Toni Morrison's "Sula," Langston Hughes' and Zora Neale Hurston's play "Mule Bone," Toni Morrison's short story "Recitatif" and others. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
While not a comprehensive survey, this course introduces students to a wide range of literature written by African Americans between the mid-19th century and the present. In regard to the chosen authors, the aim is a balance of coverage and depth that establishes a foundation for further study. To that end, the assigned primary readings are shorter, rather than longer, and are complemented by a selection of essential critical texts. To organize our reading, we examine literary works in respect to their historical and cultural contexts, and consider the politics of African American literature in the United States: the complex relationships between race, reception and canon-building in the academy, as well as the ways in which Black writing has informed — and been informed by — the struggles for freedom, civil rights and social justice. This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This course involves close examination of 10 American novels written after World War II. Consideration is given to styles and methods: the authorial choices that make the novels what they are. Beyond this, however, we examine these novels as comments on American life. The reading list may be organized around a specific theme — politics, ethnic experience, sport, small-town life — or a combination of themes. In any case, the study of authors whose place in or out of the canon has not yet been determined should give the class an opportunity for intelligent, critical reading. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Open only to first-year and sophomore students.
This workshop focuses on discussion of participants' fiction as well as on exercises and playful experimentation. Principally, we are concerned with how stories work at every level. As we consider narrative strategies and practical methods for developing individual styles, along with approaches to revising work, we also read, as writers, a variety of outside texts. This counts toward the creative writing emphasis and toward the creative practice requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 200, 202 or 204 (or an equivalent introductory workshop) and permission of instructor via application. Consult the department for information on the application process and deadlines.
This course sets out to trouble your assumptions — both conscious and unrecognized — about poetry: writing it, reading it, responding to it; its purpose, its nature, its public and private selves. We explore revision in the fullest senses of the word, aiming not only toward compression and economy but also toward expansion and explosion, toward breaking down the boundaries between what constitutes — for the student as writer and reader — poem and not-poem. We reverse the usual order of things: Our workshopping focuses on canonized poems; students should expect to engage fully in the role of poet-critic when responding to classmates' work, approaching it as they approach texts in the literature classroom. We explore poetry's technologized face through blogs and webzines, even as, Luddite-like, we hand-write, cut, paste, find and memorize poetry. This class requires intensive reading (and attendant thoughtful response) in poetry and poetics; enthusiastic engagement with exercises in critique, revision and poem-making; and a final project, demonstrating advancement as both critic and poet during the course of the semester. Texts likely include several volumes of contemporary poetry, selected critical essays, manifestoes, writings on process and readings by visiting writers. This counts toward the creative writing emphasis and the creative practice requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 201 or 205 (or an equivalent introductory workshop) and permission of instructor via application. Consult the department for information on the application process and deadlines.
Students in this workshop write imaginative nonfiction in any of its many forms, and write and revise one or more pieces to produce 75-90 pages over the course of the semester. As with all writing workshops, classroom discussion requires an openness to giving and receiving criticism. Outside reading includes essays and at least one book-length work by acknowledged masters of the form. To better explore questions of craft, written responses to these readings are due each week. This counts toward the creative writing emphasis and the creative practice requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 200, 202, 205 (or an equivalent introductory workshop) and permission of instructor via application. Consult the department for information on the application process and deadlines.
Lori May defines literary citizenship as a "term for engaging in the community with the intent of giving as much as, if not more so, than we take. Our literary world is a social ecosystem that relies on others: readers, writers, editors, reviewers, publishers, booksellers and so on. The writing and publishing world is one made of relationships. Writing itself may be a somewhat solitary activity, but once the story or poem is ‘done,’ we rely on others to read, share and publish our work. Yet there are so many levels of participation from others in this community.” This upper-level seminar — focusing on creative writing and literary citizenship — is aimed at preparing students for the writing life beyond Kenyon College. Throughout the semester, guest speakers visit the class and speak of the paths they took in their writing careers. Students examine the business side of writing while maintaining artistic integrity and other responsibilities writers have other than the creation of texts; what it means to give back; what it means to be part of a world of artists; and what it means to be a literary citizen. This course counts toward the creative practice requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 200, 201, 202, 206, 291 (creative writing-focused special topics course) and permission of instructor.
Why do we tell stories — and why do we do it the way we do? What psychological desires do our narratives express? How do they help us to generate our collective cultures, to frame our individual lives, to re-create the past and to imagine the future? What political dictates do our narratives obey, and how do they constitute political resistance? What are the different genres of narrative, and what elements define them? This course asks these and other such questions in order to study the nature, purpose and effects of narrative from a range of theoretical perspectives. We study the fundamentals of narrative form (plot, character, perspective, among others); the history of narrative genres; the science of “narratology” (the formal study of narrative); narrative in psychology, new media and the law; and the function of narrative as described in schools of criticism from formalism to deconstruction, and from film theory to ludology. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Long ago, in answer to the question, "What is time?" St. Augustine wrote: "If no one asks me I know, but when someone does I do not." Time continues to be hard to define or explain. But where philosophy and physics fail, some say, narrative succeeds. Narrative engagement — as the creative record of history, the form of personal recollection or the way to trace the succession of moments in an ordinary day — may be the cultural form through which we truly understand the meaning of time. To test this theory, this course reads narrative fiction that experiments with the representation of time to see what such fiction has to say about time and how the problem of time determines the forms, styles and techniques of narrative fiction. Primary texts include novels and stories by Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges and others. Secondary reading includes philosophical treatments of time, literary-critical accounts of the time-narrative relationship, and cultural histories of time's changing meanings. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-29 or junior standing.
Through discussion and occasional lecture, this course examines some of the aesthetic strategies and cultural concerns of postmodern narrative: the critique of representation and a consequent focus on fiction-ality, textuality, intertextuality and the act of reading; subversion of "master narratives" and the release of multiplicity and indeterminacy; preoccupation with the discursive construction of the human subject and the interrelationship of language, knowledge and power; and the interpenetration of history and fiction, theory and literature, "high" art and mass culture. We consider such writers as Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, J.M. Coetzee, Maxine Hong Kingston, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Puig, Ishmael Reed, Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson. We also engage various theorists and critics of the postmodern (Barthes, Lyotard, Jameson, Eagleton). This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
“If queer theory was born of the union of sexuality studies and feminism,” writes trans activist and historian Susan Stryker, “transgender studies can be considered queer theory’s evil twin: It has the same parentage but willfully disrupts the privileged family narratives that favor sexual identity labels (like gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual) over the gender categories (like man and woman) that enable desire to take shape and find its aim.” Disrupt gender categories, Stryker suggests, and you disrupt desire. Disrupt desire, and you unsettle the sexual-identity politics that mobilized a movement. Disrupt those politics, and you rewrite kinship narratives that shape how gender and sexuality are embodied and understood.
Though they can share critical positions on the compulsory organization of gender, sexuality and kinship, “queer” and “trans” remain as multiple and as intersectional as the bodies and politics to which they may refer. What makes a work of art or literature queer or trans? How do trans and queer collide and collude in naming identities and histories? What’s trans about queer? What’s queer about trans? This course stages encounters between queer and trans genealogies and methodologies in works of poetry and prose, performance and film, autobiography and autotheory. We delve into debates that have emerged at the intersections of gender and sexuality studies, queer and trans of color critique, transnational feminisms and beyond. From the dazzle of early queer theory to the disgrace of its disciplinary exclusions, and from the partial institutionalization to the decolonization of trans studies, our course materials draw on the resources of academia and activism as we travel across contexts and continents.
We encounter works by José Esteban Muñoz, Cáel Keegan, Counterpoints, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Paul Preciado, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Maggie Nelson, C. Riley Snorton, Susan Stryker, Judith Butler, Marcia Ochoa and Torrey Peters, among others. Students contribute to guiding our discussion with a group presentation, craft a creative project and write an essay combining close reading and research. The counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291.
This course is an introduction to the history of material texts. It investigates the production of writing from scribal manuscript to modern digital media, with a focus on the hand-press era (c.1450-1830). Our goal is to become proficient at reading material forms in conjunction with the texts they contain and to place these materials in historical context. During the course, we examine topics including: shifting notions of authorship and audience; the processes of manuscript and print production; the economics of printing and bookselling; libraries and organization of knowledge; methods of illustration; mise-en-page and paratexts; and textual editing. This counts toward the department's historical period requirement (either pre-1700 or 1700-1900). Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
From Homer’s description of the shield of Achilles in the “Iliad,” to Keats’ great “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” to Carmen Giménez Smith’s meditation on Asco’s 1974 photograph “Decoy Gang War Victim” and Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Wall,” poets have attempted to capture visual works through words. This course considers examples and theories in this tradition, from classical to contemporary poets as well as attend to recent explorations that complicate the relationships between text and image. In part, we examine the convergences of text with visual language and the means by which poetry and the arts mutually reflect their nuances. While course themes vary between instructors, topics that students might explore include ekphrasis, concrete poetry, vispo (or visual poetry), and digital poetry as well as their respective theories and traditions. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
As a genre, fantasy has seen a sudden leap in popularity over the last two decades, primarily as a result of novels for children, such as those by J. K. Rowling and Philip Pullman, and of film or television adaptations, such as those of "Lord of the Rings" and "Game of Thrones." Despite these events, it remains one of the most marginalized genre categories in fiction, both in academia and in culture more generally — a marginalization that is all the more striking considering the general acceptance of magic realist novels as part of literary culture. In this course, we reread the genre of fantasy for continuities with the wider history of the novel, focusing particularly on allegory, the bildungsroman, children's literature and historical narratives. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
A duo of Washington journalists uncovers a political scandal that brings down a U.S. president, a reporter devotes more than a decade to solving one of the worst serial-killer cases in U.S. history, toxic waste dumping leads to the death of several residents in a small New England town, and a writer spends eight years of his life shadowing the lawyer who fought and lost one of the earliest environmental law cases in U.S. courts. In all those events, and many others, journalistic research, analysis and writing were the keys to uncovering unknown or concealed facts that changed the course of U.S. history. This class explores the longstanding relationship between literature and journalism through the genre of literary journalism in a series of mostly 20th- and 21st-century texts (such as Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" and Jonathan Harr's "A Civil Action"), and films that represent the process and consequences of journalistic writing ("All the President's Men" and "Zodiac," among others). Secondary texts include books about writing and about literary journalism, such as Norman Sims' "True Stories: A Century of Literary Journalism." Students learn to contextualize these works within their historical periods and to analyze them as cultural and literary texts. In addition, students produce a piece of literary journalism as their final project. The goal of the class is to familiarize students with the historical and literary significance of this genre and to explore how this "fourth genre" has contributed to the construction of personal and national narratives of identity through the use of literary tools. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Who and what is "Shakespeare"? The wealth of Shakespeare's legacy allows us to offer many versions of this course, all of which focus on Shakespeare on the page and on the stage. Sometimes this course may examine the role of the cultural "other." Looking at figures like the witch, the native/foreigner or the cross-dressed woman in such plays as "Macbeth," "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice," we explore the way Shakespeare's theater shaped — and was shaped by — the cultural expectations of the English Renaissance. At other times, the course may query the concept of Renaissance self-fashioning in the sonnets and in plays such as "Twelfth Night," "Hamlet" and "Antony and Cleopatra." We may also explore what Shakespeare read as he composed plays such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "King Lear" and "The Tempest" — and how writers since Shakespeare have responded to and re-envisioned his work in the form of lyric poems, new plays, novels and films. Now and then, the course may focus on "the history plays" or the relationship of comedy and tragedy to the romances. No matter which version of Shakespeare is offered, a close reading of several of his plays always shapes and centers this course. This counts towards the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course treats the history of English from Anglo-Saxon through the Renaissance in English literature to the era of Samuel Johnson and the creation of his great dictionary. The first half of the course provides an introduction to both Anglo-Saxon and Middle English language and literature. Students acquire sufficient grasp to read the citations in the "Oxford English Dictionary" from the medieval period. In the Anglo-Saxon portion of the course, the study focuses on short texts including poetry, riddles and varieties of prose. In the Middle English and Early Modern English portions, the array of texts is broader and includes the Renaissance sonnet tradition, family correspondence and miscellaneous prose. Particular attention is given to the emergence of differentiated styles, dialects and "discourses" in the 17th and 18th centuries, and to the early stages of English language study following models of philology created to treat Latin and Greek. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
With a focus on major works — "Troilus and Criseyde," "The House of Fame," "The Legend of Good Women" and "The Canterbury Tales" — we consider Chaucer in the context of medieval literature and as a writer who anticipates modern questions of gender and authority. Reading in Middle English and exploring the social and historical contexts of Chaucer's fictions, we pay special attention to his preoccupations with the experience of reading, the revisioning of romance, the metamorphosis and translation of texts, and the status of the book itself. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
The Reformation deeply influenced the literary development of England and transformed the religious, intellectual and cultural worlds of the 16th and 17th centuries. The long process of Reformation — shaped by late-medieval piety, the Renaissance, Continental activists and popular religion — illustrates both religious continuities and discontinuities in the works of poets and prelates, prayer books and propaganda, sermons and exorcisms, bibles and broadsheets. This interdisciplinary course focuses on a range of English literary texts from the humanists under early Tudor monarchs to the flowering of Renaissance writers in the Elizabethan and Stuart eras — in the context of religious history, poetry, drama, prose and iconography. Writers and reformers such as More, Erasmus, Cranmer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Southwell, Herbert and Donne are examined. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course examines the poetry of England's most radical age, a period of revolution, religious dissent and the birth of modern science, of apocalyptic visions and utopian dreams. We consider how these changing ideas about politics, religion, science and sex shaped the poems of John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Ben Jonson, George Herbert, Katherine Philips, John Milton, Henry Vaughan, Andrew Marvell and others. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course undertakes a close reading and analysis of the great English epic "Paradise Lost" in the context of Milton's political and literary career: his early experiments in lyric poetry and masque; his radical support — through prose, the writings of "(his) left hand" — of revolution, freedom of the press and divorce; and his personal response to imprisonment and the death of his political hopes in the restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II. As we examine issues of freedom, authority and authorship in "Paradise Lost" and "Samson Agonistes," we consider Milton's revisioning of classical epic and drama and of biblical texts. And as we explore the attempt "to justify the ways of God to men," we pay particular attention to Milton's account of gender and his examination of the literary imagination and the creative process. We also consider the responses of other great writers, from Milton's time to our own, to this most provocative and enduring epic. This counts towards the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course focuses on the plays of a period (roughly 1660-1720) deemed to be one of the most licentious in history, both morally and politically. We examine the ways in which contemporary playwrights and film directors explore and critique not only Restoration society but also modern society through the lens of Restoration plays. Peter Greenaway's "Draughtsman's Contract" (1982), set in 1694, is a brilliant reconstruction of the Restoration's preoccupation with sex and property but it also is a film that reflects on the art of filmmaking, thus taking us into the modern world through the perspective of the 17th-century artist and forcing us to confront the ways in which we see the past. The Restoration period was an important moment of transition in theater history: Women (as actors) were introduced to the stage (displacing boys playing women's roles), and female playwrights had a new and influential voice. We examine the rise of the actress in the Restoration and in modern plays that attempt to re-create the sexual dynamics of this cultural shift. This counts toward the department's historical period requirement (either pre-1700 or 1700-1900). Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course introduces the “rise of the novel” thesis articulated by Ian Watt (“The Rise of the Novel,” 1957) that has been central to 18th-century studies but has since been challenged and revised in the field. Alongside theoretical readings in the history and theory of the novel, we read different forms of the 18th-century novel (the “true history,” the picaresque, the novel of manners, the bildungsroman, the travel narrative, the gothic) while situating them in their material, social and political contexts. What constitutes a novel, and what is novel about the novel? What is the novel’s relationship to other genres and forms? This course is reading-intensive, engaging with both primary texts and secondary texts, the latter of which involve not only critical interpretations of novels but also theories of genre and reading. This course prepares students to think about the novel historically and theoretically. Course assignments develop close-reading skills and ability to produce well-supported, nuanced arguments that intervene in larger scholarly conversations. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major.
This course explores some of the complexities and contradictions in the literature of the Romantic period. A period that came to be identified with the work of six male poets in two generations (Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge; Byron, Shelley and Keats) also is the period in which the English novel achieves considerable subtlety and broad cultural influence. In addition to the poets, then, the course includes works by such novelists as Walter Scott and Maria Edgeworth. While lyric poetry becomes increasingly dominant and the sonnet undergoes a revival in this period, there remains a poetic hierarchy in which epic and tragedy occupy the highest positions. The course therefore includes dramatic poems, whether or not such works were intended for performance, and a consideration of the epic impulse. The course examines the tension between populism (and popular superstitions) and the elitist alienation of the Romantic poet, and the relationship between political radicalism and both Burkean conservatism and an abandonment of the political ideals of the French Revolution in favor of imaginative freedom. Students are introduced to recent critical studies of Romanticism. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
In the 19th century, British writers brought into the world innumerable fictional characters and plots that have — for good and ill, and in forms as low as cereal boxes and as high as acclaimed novels — served as cultural touchstones for more than a century. In this course, we explore a handful of fictions that have undergone particularly provocative transformations into novelistic, theatrical and cinematic productions. Throughout the semester, we use our close readings of fictions, plays and films (as well as of ephemera like cartoons) to consider theories and practices of adaptation in both the 19th and 20th centuries. What kinds of plots seem most to have enthralled or even possessed 19th- and 20th-century readers and viewers? How do those plots change when they undergo shifts from textual to visual media? We also explore the cultural and critical discourses that have grown up around particular works. Course texts include Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," Shelley's "Frankenstein," Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Stevenson's "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and Stoker's "Dracula," as well as numerous film adaptations of each novel. Students produce two formal writings and weekly film response papers, and participate in a group research presentation. Students enrolled in this course must attend a weekly film screening. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course serves as a wide-ranging exploration of Victorian poetic culture. Our primary focus is Victorian poetry in all its forms — including lyric, ballad, elegy, narrative and epic — and its staggering range of subjects sacred and profane: love, grief, social injustice, doubt, sadomasochism, religious devotion, pet dogs, travel, madness and poetry itself (among many others). We read works by Tennyson, the Brownings, the Brontes, the Rossettis, Arnold, Clough, Hopkins, Swinburne and Hardy, examining the formal and topical conventions and innovations of their verse. We also examine mechanisms of fame and obscurity as they shaped these (and other) poets' careers, and discuss a number of female poets whose critical and canonical fortunes have risen in recent years, including the dramatic monologist Augusta Webster and the duo who wrote as Michael Field. We consider the relationship of poetry to other arts (especially painting) and literary forms (such as the novel); we also discuss the role anthologies, periodicals, reviews and the development of English literature as an academic discipline played in the circulation and consumption of poetic works throughout the 19th century. Students write two formal essays and several three-to-four-page poetry explications and perform at least one poem during class. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course introduces students to the wide range of questions, scandals, lessons, and pleasures to be found in 19th-century novels. We attend to questions of how the 19th-century novel differed from its predecessors and successors; how the novel, as a genre, grappled with the 19th century's relentless social, political and technological changes; and how novels functioned within and across national boundaries and literary traditions. How were 19th-century novels packaged and marketed? Who read them, and how did they read them? How have they survived into other media (including authorial public readings and theatrical and cinematic adaptations)? How might careful study of another era's fictional literature help us to both understand that era and re-examine our own historical and cultural moment? This counts toward the 1700-1900 and diversity requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
In the 19th century, Britain was nothing if not haunted — by (among other things) history, doubt, science, political unrest, desire and sexuality, other parts and peoples of the world, and the unfathomable complexities of the human psyche. This course provides an intensive introduction to Victorian literature and culture through an examination of its ghosts. Among the literary works we read are fictions by Emily Bronte, Hardy, Eliot, Gaskell, Dickens, Pater, James and Wilde; poetry by Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Christina Rossetti, Swinburne and Hardy; and autobiographical writing by Oliphant. We explore extraliterary movements and phenomena that illustrate how Victorian people attempted to document and/or make contact with ghosts, including spiritualism, spirit photography and psychical research. And we give some consideration to the ways the Victorian period has haunted its successors. Students can expect to complete two major essays and a final exam, deliver at least one oral presentation, and compose occasional short reading papers or discussion questions. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course affords us an opportunity to concentrate on and luxuriate in one novel, George Eliot's "Middlemarch" (1871-72), and to consider how close study of a single literary work can afford a window onto the cultural, political and intellectual developments of a complex historical period. During our first read, we move through this eight-part novel at roughly the pace at which you might have encountered it in a course on the Victorian novel or on George Eliot's works more broadly. On our second read, we move at the much slower pace of one part per week, bringing various contextualizing materials to bear upon our rereading. This course thus functions both as a chance to become deeply conversant with an iconic British novel and as an experiment in slow reading and in rereading. We engage with questions of literary form and formal close-reading, of cultural and biographical contexts, of publishing and reception history, and of changing critical and theoretical perspectives. Students take a midterm exam, design and conduct part of a class session, and write a final research essay. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course examines Pacific Island poetry written in English since the mid-20th century. While this course predominately focuses on the literary communities in the Pacific basin, we also explore important developments in island and continental island voices from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Students learn how to identify literary forms, styles and genres from these regions and relate them to their historical, gendered, regional, and global contexts. In addition, we examine the histories and experiences of colonization in Oceania and the Pacific Rim. Throughout the course, we consider what traditional and experimental forms have emerged in response to the self-determination movements across the region and how gendered, racial and migrant identities have played a role in the poetry of the Pacific Island diaspora. We study poetry by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Craig Santos Perez, Hone Tuwhare, Robert Sullivan, Dan Taulapapa McMullin, among others. Students learn how to place these authors within their historical and cultural contexts as well as develop their understanding of post-colonialism and indigenous sovereignty. This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
MacMorris, resident stage-Irishman of "Henry V," poses the pressing postcolonial question, "What ish my nation?" — a concern that grows urgent for Irish writers at the beginning of the 20th century. This course examines the mutually informing emergence of an independent Irish state and a modern Irish literature, and analyzes the evolution of postcolonial Irish culture. Focusing on texts from the "Celtic Revival," the revolutionary and Civil War era, the Free State, and present-day Eire, we will analyze literature's dialogue with its historical moment and with its cultural inheritance. We consider multiple genres (drama, poetry, fiction and film) and such writers as Yeats, Augusta Gregory, J.M. Synge, James Joyce, Padraic Pearse, Sean O'Casey, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O'Brien, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Eavan Boland, Colm Tóibin and Conor McPherson. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
What makes and defines a city? Is there an essence that unites Tulsa and Tokyo or Rio de Janeiro and Riga? What happens if we shift our gaze to comparing New York, Delhi and Shanghai? Some of the characteristics that make these three cities similar include their cosmopolitanism, their renown as economic and political hubs, and their location as sites of cultural activity. In contrast with Tulsa and Riga, then, these cities become global cities. Since the 1990s, globalization theorists have increasingly focused on the city as the site of contestation between the local and the global. In this course, we read cultural and literary texts that challenge and complicate how we read cities: between exemplifying the nation in a microcosm and embodying globality. Some of the writers we read may include Teju Cole, Orhan Pamuk, Monica Ali, China Miéville, and Jeet Thayil. Students should contact the instructor to find out what specific texts will be adopted. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course focuses on the American short story since 1900. The story is not simply a shorter fictional narrative than the novel. It is a genre with a distinct pedigree. For the first three-quarters of the 20th century, writing short stories for commercial venues such as the "Saturday Evening Post," the "New Yorker" and even "Playboy" offered financial support to many authors while they were also writing novels or screenplays. Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Porter are just a few examples. More recently, creative writing workshops and university-based M.F.A. programs have proliferated, and the short form, ideal for workshop discussion, received new life. Finally, throughout the last century, the short story was often also the site for counter-narratives and other experimentation. In this course, we read five or six stories each week. We often read multiple examples by the same author. And though each week concentrates on stories largely from the same era, there are significant differences in styles, subjects and technique. We discuss how the stories work, how the authors' themes and techniques develop over time, and how they influence each other. As the semester progresses, students assume increasing responsibility for leading discussions. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
For at least 100 years now, novelists have experimented with ways to make fiction "modern," to make it better able to reflect and resist the perils and pleasures of modernity. This course explores the ways they have done so, tracing the evolution of the modern novel from its origins in the realist fiction of the 19th century to its contemporary incarnations. We consider such authors as Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, E.M. Forster, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, Anthony Burgess and Salman Rushdie. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course is a reading of African fiction since the middle of the 20th century, focusing on the way Africa's cultural traditions, historical problems and political objectives have revised and resisted Western narrative forms. What narrative forms develop as a result of the machinations of power in modern Africa? How, for example, does the need to present historical information and political argument to the broadest possible local audience favor realism and popular styles? How has the globalization of the African novel complicated questions of genre, style and even the very category of African fiction? Some of the topics touched upon may include the impact of modernization on traditional life, the transmission of oral culture into literary form, the impact of external patronage on local literary cultures, the influence of writers educated abroad on literature at home, the result of the African effort to "decolonize" literary forms of expression, and the transnational turn in African fiction, Afro-Futurism. The thematic focus may vary from year to year; students should contact the instructor to find out what specific focus and texts will be adopted. In addition to plays, short stories and novels, we read selections from critical and nonfiction works. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major and toward the concentration in African diaspora studies. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Contemporary literary fiction from Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean is often referred to as postcolonial. This course proposes another category: the Global South. One immediate consequence of such categorization is that these literatures might be framed in relation to not only Western Europe but also one another. Looking at the Global South novel as a genre enables us to move outside the boundaries of national literatures and regional specificity while seeing their interconnectedness. In this course, we read texts that travel and draw different geographies and histories into relation with one another. At the same time, we begin defining the parameters of the Global South novel and its difference from postcolonial and world literature. In addition to a range of critical and theoretical texts, we may read the following novels by Laila Lalami', Sunjeev Sahota, Achmat Dangor and Kerry Young's “Pao,” among others. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Exile, Edward Said writes, is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: Its essential sadness can never be surmounted. What is it about leaving one’s native home that evokes this essential sadness? Is a native place always a true home? What are the social, cultural, emotional, and political challenges that accompany leaving home as well as arriving in a new country? What does it mean to return home as a member of the diasporic community abroad? How do we distinguish between the various types of migrations — exile, refugee, expatriate and émigré? How do writers imagine the various hybridity — linguistic, cultural, religious, gender and sexual — that result from these complicated crossings? We interrogate these questions related to diasporic living, through an examination of an array of literary and theoretical writings. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
If you ask Canadian people what defines Canadian culture, they will struggle to find an answer. Canadians are taught that they distinguish themselves from the U.S. in terms of how they treat their immigrant population: the U.S. is a “melting pot” — immigrants must assimilate to American culture; Canada is a “mosaic” — immigrants maintain their cultures and rituals. Believing the idea of the “Canadian cultural mosaic” leads many Canadians to state proudly that Canada is an immigrant nation. And in many ways, that statement is true: Immigrants comprise about 50 percent of the Toronto population, and more than 22 percent of the entire Canadian population. But the cultural mosaic is also a myth that overlooks the history and present-day lives of Indigenous Canadians and assumes everyone living in Canada feels perfectly “at home” wherever they are. Canadian writers, consequently, grapple with ideas about the relationship between space (geographical, cultural, imagined) and identity in a variety of ways and from a wide range of perspectives. In our course, we read short stories, poems and novels by Canadian authors who represent ideas about home, loss, belonging, citizenship, immigration, colonization, landscape, space and identity. We ask, for example, to what extent is “national identity” stable? What is the relationship between national and individual identity? What makes a text “transnational”? How do Canadian writers use landscape and space to think through issues of identity? We do not find a singular, definitive answer to the question of Canadian culture; but we analyze its complexities and pluralities, and in doing so uncover more nuanced and accurate truths about cultural identities in Canada. Authors studied include Lee Maracle, Alice Munro, David Chariandy, Dionne Brand, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Phoebe Wang, Thomas King and more. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
The course offers an exploration of literary texts from writers based in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and/or the South Asian diaspora. It examines how South Asia as a category is imagined and evoked, as well as how the literary classification changes the way we approach and read the text. To what extent is a reading of a text bound with the national literary canon? In what ways are literary texts informed by the social, historical and political conditions while also participating in the transformation of the public sphere? What are the ways in which South Asian writers articulate a specifically postcolonial imaginary within a global discourse? What, indeed, counts as a South Asian text? In addition to poems, plays, short stories and novels, we read critical and nonfiction works. Topics to be examined in the course may include borders and locations, traumas and triumphs of decolonization, formation of the national canon, and articulation of identity within and outside the nation. The thematic focus of the course may vary from year to year. Students should contact the instructor to ascertain the specific focus and texts to be adopted. This counts toward the post-1900 and diversity requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
"I celebrate myself and sing myself, / And what I shall assume you shall assume," asserts Walt Whitman. Emily Dickinson queries, "I'm Nobody — who are you?" This course focuses in depth on the poetic works of these two 19th-century American poets, paying attention to the development of their distinctive poetry and their careers, their publication history and reception, the relationship between their work and lives, and their influence on subsequent generations of writers. We pay particular attention to their formal innovations and poetic principles. Students write weekly response papers, including projects in poetic imitation, and two longer (nine- to 12-page) essays. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course traces American women's authorship between the 1840s and the early 1900s from a multi-ethnic perspective, from Margaret Fuller's feminist manifesto "Woman in the 19th Century" in 1845, to Elizabeth Keckley's autobiographical account of her work as a seamstress for the Lincoln White House in 1868, to Edith Wharton's heartbreaking "The House of Mirth" (1905). Focusing on literature selected to provide a wide exposure to the study of U.S. female writers, the course sets each author within her historical context and examines the ways in which the texts address issues of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, class and other identity categories pertinent to the definition of American-ness. Is there such a category as American women's writing? And, if so, how might we define its national and generic parameters? The course explores these questions through biographical and critical lenses currently under debate in this field, such as separate spheres, true womanhood, republican motherhood, sentimentalism and manifest domesticity, among others. The course provides students with a solid foundation in some of the most well-known but also some of the least-studied texts written by 19th-century American female authors. This counts toward the diversity and the 1700-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
For the United States, as it made the transition from republic to nation, the period between the Revolutionary and Civil wars was one of expansion. The nation’s drive to increase its territory went hand-in-hand with its desire to wield political influence across the continent and around the American hemisphere. Meanwhile, an emerging and growing middle class was bound by a proliferating culture of print. In 1800, only a few Americans owned more than a Bible and one or two practical books; however, by mid-century most everyone read for pleasure, and fiction — in newspapers, magazines and books — was what they most often consumed. The degree to which Americans cohered as a nation around popular fiction, the short story and the novel, is the guiding concern of this course. With attention to the printed status of our texts, we read in short and long form across a variety of genres, from novels of manners to potboilers to serious works of social critique. We thus are very interested in how the cultural aspect of literature — the shared experience of reading — intersected with its social and political function as the nation expanded: as it exerted its “Manifest Destiny,” coped with agricultural and urban industrialization and confronted the questions of Native American and women’s rights, as well as slavery. As we see, the term “domestic sensations” takes on many connotations. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
In this course, students study the fashion in which the concept of race becomes a powerful influence on U.S. literature between 1800 and 1900. We think extensively about the relation between the attempt to produce a national literature and the conundrum presented by race. Beginning with literary precursors in the 17th and 18th centuries (e.g., Puritan captivity narratives), we work our way through authors such as Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt among others. As we do this, students study how national identity influences literary production and how that production forges national identity. As they study this reciprocal relation, students also gain a familiarity with basic concepts in critical race theory. This counts toward the diversity and the 1700-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
In the United States context, the New Orleans and Louisiana contribution to Southern literary regionalism has traditionally included Kate Chopin, George Washington Cable and Lafcadio Hearn. Rather than focus on a handful of late-19th-century writers, this course takes a broader view of the time and space of the region in American literature. Beginning with the colonial era, we read the Mississippi River Valley as an environmental region that shaped the early and 19th-century imagery of North America on a number of comparative scales that included the territory, the nation and the city, as well as the New World and the West. In this expanded context, we arrive at the work of the traditional regionalists with a richer understanding of the historical intersections of nature and culture that support their literary representations. For English majors, this course meets the 1700-1900 requirement. In environmental studies, it satisfies the cultures and societies requirement. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
When does a distinctly American literature emerge? In the United States, the answer is often the Early Republic (c. 1789-1830) or the “American Renaissance” (c. 1830-1865), though others say that it begins with the Puritans in 17th-century New England. Each of these answers, however, ignores much of the broader colonial history of the Americas and takes a fairly narrow view of what constitutes “American-ness.” This course, beginning with early European contact with the New World, instead considers the emergence of U.S. national literature within an American hemisphere that was shaped by a dynamic and often violent process of cultural contact and exchange. It is a story in which concepts of racial difference were created through the contest for territorial expansion, religious and secular views of the world were vying for ascendancy, and the revolutionary ideals of the Atlantic world were unevenly fulfilled. In this expanded context, we read Spanish, French and English chronicles of conquest and settlement in dialogue with a range of Amerindian and African diasporic texts: These include oral and pictorial accounts, as well as spiritual autobiography and slave narrative. From sermons and devotional poetry to speeches and manifestos, we also explore how public and private life in the colonies intersected with religious and political concerns. Given this background, we then consider how more mainstream genres of poetry and fiction, including the novel, took shape in the early U.S. Along with selected critical texts, authors may include Cabeza de Vaca, Anne Bradstreet, Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Jefferson, Phillis Wheatley, Chateaubriand and William Apess. This counts toward either the pre-1700 or the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
At once setting and subject, geopolitical region and aesthetic construct, the Americas have captivated cultural imaginations across the globe. And yet, the descriptor "American" suggests a singularity that disregards a continental expanse mapped across the hemisphere, ranging across local contexts from the Southern Cone to the Caribbean to North America and beyond. How have the Americas been constructed and contested by writing and rewriting over history and across borders? What role do (inter)textuality, performance and translation play in transnational and postcolonial approaches to hemispheric histories of colonization and slavery? How do markers of race, ethnicity, class and gender bear on experiences and representations of immigration, displacement and belonging? These are but a few of the questions we address as we trace movements across borders and centuries. Drawing on the intersections between studies of U.S. Latinx and Latin American literatures, postcoloniality, diaspora and translation, we investigate how varying geopolitics and genres construct and contest the hemispheric imaginaries that encompass and exceed the Americas. Although all texts are provided in translation, a working knowledge of Spanish is helpful for approaching course content. This counts toward diversity and post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course is a general introduction to major American novels from 1900 to 1955. Our central question is: How is American national identity imagined and represented in fiction? We also consider the relation between a general national identity and various regional identities in the South or the Midwestern prairie. Are these identities more in conflict or in concert? The course investigates how national identity also can be connected with other forms of identity, such as race, class and gender. We also interest ourselves in the craft of the authors under consideration, including Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, John Dos Passos and Ralph Ellison. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major and the American studies major/concentration. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Audre Lorde once declared, “Poetry is not a luxury.” This course serves as an introduction to contemporary American poetry from 1945 to the present. While the themes and texts vary among instructors, this course pays attention to the production and decentering of American literary traditions and canons with respect to their socio-political and aesthetic contexts. Poets may include Robert Duncan, Muriel Rukeyser, Tommy Pico, Adrienne Rich, Amiri Baraka, Jericho Brown, Fatimah Asghar, Ilya Kaminsky, Hoa Nguyen, Evie Shockley, Wang Ping, C.D. Wright, Terrance Hayes and many others. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
"Pleasurable" doesn't seem like a word that would apply to the harrowing story of a mother who kills her child rather than allow her to be enslaved. Yet Toni Morrison, consummate artist and Nobel laureate, writes prose so beautiful that one could describe reading such a story as, in some sense, pleasurable, even as this beauty deepens the powerful and sometimes painful effect of her words. In this class, we read most of Morrison's novels, some of her short fiction and some of her critical work. We discuss the craft involved in the creation of Morrison's stunning prose; her position relative to both American and African-American literary canons; and the themes of her literature, including (but not limited to) race, gender and love (familial, amorous, platonic and, perhaps most important, self). This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. It also counts toward the African diaspora studies concentration, as well as the women's and gender studies major/concentration. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
American poetry entered one of its most vibrant eras in the second half of the 20th century. Myriad threads of bold new poetic experimentation were formed in response to the vast social and cultural changes affecting Americans’ lives, including the legacy of World War II, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and second wave feminism. This course covers poetic movements such as Confessionalism, the Black Arts Movement, Deep Image, the New York School, the Black Mountain School and the Beats. We consider such poets as William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Etheridge Knight, June Jordan, James Wright, Frank O’Hara and Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge. This course concludes with a consideration of issues of canon-formation — and cracks in the canon. Topics may vary. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
W.E.B. Du Bois famously observed that the "problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line — the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men." While one might debate whether that was truly "the" problem of the 20th century, it certainly proved to be a prominent theme in African American literature. African American literature also often turned its gaze inward, reflecting on what it might mean to be a race, and how "the race" might improve its condition. This course focuses on African American literature written between 1900 and 2000. Subjects considered may include the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, the literature of racial "passing," African American literature since World War II, the political implications of marriage for a group once legally denied it, and African American literary feminism. The central questions to be examined may include: Is there a distinctive African American literary tradition? Are there multiple traditions? How does a body of literature demarked by "race" become inflected by conceptions of gender, ethnicity, social class, or sexual orientation? What are the significant relations between African American literature and other overlapping literary traditions? What does it mean to speak of identity in literature? This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
This course posits that gender and sexuality do not merely intersect with Native American indigenous cultures but are produced by and through them. In the course, we explore the complex relationships among gender, sexuality and tribal sovereignty, beginning with such questions as: How did European invasion of the Americas affect the traditionally high status of Native women in their own communities? What is the relationship between the imposition of European gender binaries and sovereign selfdefinition? We focus on the ways Native women and Two Spirit writers represent their cultures in novels, poetry, memoir and film. Texts for the course likely include Ella Deloria's "Waterlily," Louise Erdrich's "Tracks," Deborah Miranda's "Bad Indians," the anthology "Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature," and the films "Soft Things," "Hard Things" and "Two Spirit." Critical readings focus on such topics as Indigenous literary nationalism, trauma and queer indigeneity. This counts toward the diversity and the post-1900 requirements for the major. The course also counts toward the women's and gender studies concentration. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
In Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God," Nanny observes that African American women are "de mule uh de world." Her response to this situation is to marry her granddaughter to a man whose wealth might take Janie off her feet. Janie, in contrast, wants a man whose charm will sweep her off her feet. To what extent do historical circumstances, expressed in this case as generational differences, shape the meaning of marriage for African American women? What other kinds of hopes are invested in the institution of marriage in African American women's writing (and lives)? When might marriage cease to be regarded as a viable avenue for expanding African American women's opportunities? How do African American authors negotiate the loaded issue of African American female sexuality both within and outside of marriage? What circumstances could make death an African American mother's greatest gift, as in Toni Morrison's novel "Sula," for example? What circumstances could make abandonment a generous gesture, as in Harriet Jacobs' "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"? These are just a handful of the questions that stimulate our discussion over the course of the semester. This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major (even though the texts in this course span from 1861 to 1991). Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.
Designed to take full advantage of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the British Isles, the Kenyon-Exeter Seminar focuses on two different themes: "plays in production" and "literature and landscape." "Plays in production" focuses on the drama, stagecraft, history and culture of British theater. Students see and study 15 to 20 plays ranging from works by Shakespeare and other Renaissance and classical dramatists to the most avant-garde of contemporary writers; from “original practices” at London’s Globe Theatre to “immersive theater” in London warehouses to cutting-edge productions staged by boundary-defying companies. The goal is to trace the actual process of production from play-text to cultural reception all across Britain's theatrical history, in the context of close classroom attention to the theory and practice of performance. "Literature and landscape" integrates analysis of literary texts with study of the distinctive geographic and social landscapes that inspired and shaped them. This part of the course balances literary study with travel throughout England and the British Isles. Subjects include the poetry and journals of William and Dorothy Wordsworth in the context of their surroundings in the Lake District and elsewhere; William Butler Yeats’ poetic reinvention of the Irish landscape; the country-house tradition of Chatsworth and Stourhead as it helped determine Jane Austen’s approach to questions of property and community; and the complex social and cultural history of London legible in the work of writers ranging from William Blake to Charles Dickens to Zadie Smith. This part of the course also centers on an extended sojourn across a broad region of Britain or Ireland — typically, one to two weeks in Scotland’s Highlands and cities or in the Republic of Ireland. Other sites include Dartmoor, Bath, Lyme Regis, Stonehenge, Tintagel and many more, all with a view toward immersion in the worlds of British literature. This course meets two half-units of any of the department’s distribution requirements, as confirmed by the course’s instructor. Only open to student participants in the Kenyon-Exeter Program.
Designed to take full advantage of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the British Isles, the Kenyon-Exeter Seminar focuses on two different themes: "plays in production" and "literature and landscape." "Plays in production" focuses on the drama, stagecraft, history and culture of British theater. Students see and study 15 to 20 plays ranging from works by Shakespeare and other Renaissance and classical dramatists to the most avant-garde of contemporary writers; from “original practices” at London’s Globe Theatre to “immersive theater” in London warehouses to cutting-edge productions staged by boundary-defying companies. The goal is to trace the actual process of production from play-text to cultural reception all across Britain's theatrical history, in the context of close classroom attention to the theory and practice of performance. "Literature and landscape" integrates analysis of literary texts with study of the distinctive geographic and social landscapes that inspired and shaped them. This part of the course balances literary study with travel throughout England and the British Isles. Subjects include the poetry and journals of William and Dorothy Wordsworth in the context of their surroundings in the Lake District and elsewhere; William Butler Yeats’ poetic reinvention of the Irish landscape; the country-house tradition of Chatsworth and Stourhead as it helped determine Jane Austen’s approach to questions of property and community; and the complex social and cultural history of London legible in the work of writers ranging from William Blake to Charles Dickens to Zadie Smith. This part of the course also centers on an extended sojourn across a broad region of Britain or Ireland — typically, one to two weeks in Scotland’s Highlands and cities or in the Republic of Ireland. Other sites include Dartmoor, Bath, Lyme Regis, Stonehenge, Tintagel and many more, all with a view toward immersion in the worlds of British literature. This course meets two half-units of any of the department’s distribution requirements, as confirmed by the course’s instructor. Open only to participants in the Kenyon-Exeter Program.
This seminar is required for English majors pursuing an emphasis in creative writing. The course involves critical work on a topic chosen by the instructor (such as "Reliable and Unreliable: Investigating Narrative Voice," "Beginnings and Endings," "The Little Magazine in America" and "Documentary Poetics") to provide context and structure for students' creative work. Students should check online listings for the specific focus of each section. Although not primarily a workshop, this seminar requires students to work on a substantial creative project (fiction, nonfiction or poetry). Senior English majors pursuing an emphasis in literature are required to take ENGL 410 instead. Students pursuing honors will take ENGL 497 rather than the senior seminar. Senior standing and English major.
This seminar requires students to undertake a research paper of their own design, within the context of a course that ranges across genres, literary periods and national borders. Students study literary works within a variety of critical, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts. All sections of the course seek to extend the range of interpretive strategies students can use to undertake a major literary research project. Each student completes a research paper of 15 to 17 pages. Senior English majors pursuing an emphasis in creative writing are required to take ENGL 405 instead. Students pursuing honors will take ENGL 497 instead. Senior standing and English major or permission of instructor.
In the field of narrative theory, certain fundamental questions continue to provoke debate: What are minor characters? Does description hinder plot? Is it possible to narrate the stream of consciousness? Are narrators ever really “omniscient”? Does sexuality fundamentally shape how narration proceeds? Does nation? Such questions are the focus of this advanced seminar, which explores the latest thinking on 13 key problems. Each week, we discuss an inventive contemporary approach to a fundamental problem, comparing it to more traditional approaches. A final project invites students to build upon one of these discussions or to develop their own inventive approach to a problem we have not discussed together. Preferred preparation: ENGL 212, 218, 310 or 311; or an advanced fiction writing workshop (ENGL 302 or 410). Permission of instructor required.
Memory is the mother of the muses because, as Vladimir Nabokov once noted, all art must work with materials that Mnemosyne, with mysterious foresight, has stored up and made available. That gathering-up implies, however, that the memory-work of creation is always double, for the creative spirit necessarily consigns to oblivion vastly more material than it ever retains. In this seminar, we study the double life of memory and forgetting by surveying ancient mythology and philosophy (Hesiod, Homer, Plato, Aristotle) the tension between oral and written literature, the rhetorical tradition of memory palaces (Cicero and others), the Christian Middle Ages (Saint Augustine), and finally some modern theorists (Nietzsche, Foucault) and practitioners (Proust and Nabokov). Permission of instructor required.
From "The Maltese Falcon" to "Pulp Fiction," the hard-boiled crime novel and film noir have explored the dark side of the American Dream. This course examines the cultural history of "noir" style and its influence on the literature and film of postwar America. Readings begin with classic texts by authors such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James Cain and Jim Thompson. Then we examine the influence of noir style on such "literary" texts as Faulkner's "Sanctuary," Wright's "Native Son," Warren's "All the King's Men," Capote's "In Cold Blood" and DeLillo's "Libra." By doing so, the course explores such issues as the relationship between popular and high culture, the politics of literary and cinematic style, the role of the femme fatale in recent gender theory, and the cultural history of the anti-hero as both a commercial product in American popular culture and an expression of literary dissent. The course includes a mandatory film series, tracking the development of film noir as a cinematic style, as well as extensive readings in literary and film theory. This counts as an elective for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
We will undertake an intensive investigation of Shakespeare's major tragedies -- "Hamlet," "Othello," "King Lear" and "Macbeth" -- as enduring literary and dramatic legacies and as products of a unique cultural and historical moment. How do the tragedies emerge from the landscape of early modern London and in the context of contemporaneous non-Shakespearean drama? What do the plays tell us about the Jacobean theater and the printing house? How do these dramas compare with early tragedies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Caesar?" How do the tragedies negotiate religious, racial, cultural and gender difference? Does a coherent Shakespearean theory of tragedy emerge? What is the literary afterlife of these plays? Substantial independent work and full seminar participation are required. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
This course examines four plays in which Shakespeare explores race as a cultural construct — “Titus Andronicus,” “Othello,” “Antony and Cleopatra” and “The Tempest” — alongside works by contemporary writers from the African Diaspora that respond to Shakespeare’s plays. This counts toward the diversity and pre-1700 or post-1900 requirements for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
This course focuses on the works of Jane Austen — from a selection of her juvenilia, through the six major novels, to the unfinished "Sanditon." Additional texts include Austen's letters and a biography of the author. The class considers film adaptations of Austen's novels, both as these films are positioned within and as they escape from the nostalgia industry of costume drama. Austen's works are situated formally in relation to the novel of sensibility, the "Bildungsroman," the comic novel, the tradition of the romance genre, and the development of free indirect discourse. Her novels also are considered in relation to the late 18th-century development of feminism, controversies over women's education, and the formulation of the separate sexual spheres. Ultimately, the course addresses how an author who claimed to work with "so fine a Brush" on a "little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory" responded to such major historical events as the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, English radicalism and the abolition of the slave trade. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
This course examines the novels, stories, essays, letters and diaries of Virginia Woolf, seen as contributions to Modernist aesthetics, feminist theory, narrative form, the history of sexuality, avant-garde culture, English literary history and literary psychology. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
Language, race, history, commodity culture, gender, narratology, imperialism, decolonization, sexuality: If the list reads like an encyclopedia of modern/postmodern preoccupations, it's because the text it refers — James Joyce's "Ulysses" — stands at the de-centered center of so many discussions of 20th-century culture. With a brief review of "Dubliners" and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" as our preamble, we spend the majority of our seminar following Leopold Bloom through the Dublin day that left its traces on so many aspects of modern and postmodern culture. In the process, we engage several of the major theoretical paradigms that shape contemporary literary studies. A course in modernism/modernity, the novel as genre, literary theory, Irish literature or Irish history is highly recommended. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required.
How do indigenous writers bear witness to history? How are they influenced by concerns of community, audience and tradition? These are some of the questions we consider in this exploration of poetry by contemporary Native American writers. We read works by major poets such as Simon Ortiz ("Acoma Pueblo"), Linda Hogan ("Chickasaw"), Joy Harjo ("Muskogee"), Carter Revard ("Osage") and Diane Glancy ("Cherokee"), as well as from the emerging generation. We view taped interviews and two films, Sherman Alexie's "The Business of Fancy Dancing," based on his poetry collection of the same name, and Cedar Sherbert's "Gesture Down," based on the poetry of James Welch. Other secondary materials include memoirs and essays written by the poets, as well as readings in contemporary poetics and indigenous theory. This counts toward the diversity and post-1900 requirements for the major. No prerequisites. Permission of instructor required.
Individual study in English is a privilege reserved for senior majors who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a writing project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. Because individual study is one option in a rich and varied English curriculum, it is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework, and it cannot normally be used to fulfill requirements for the major. An IS earns the student 0.5 units of credit, although in special cases it may be designed to earn 0.25 units. To qualify to enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the English department willing to direct the project. In consultation with that faculty member, the student must write a one- to two-page proposal that the department chair must approve before the IS can go forward. The chair’s approval is required to ensure that no single faculty member becomes overburdened by directing too many IS courses. In the proposal, the student should provide a preliminary bibliography (and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks) for the course, outline a specific schedule of reading and/or writing assignments, and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., a short story to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a 30-page research paper submitted at course’s end, with rough drafts due at given intervals). Students should also briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies them for their proposed individual studies. The department expects IS students to meet regularly with their instructors for at least one hour per week, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. The amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate at least that required, on average, in 400-level English courses. In the case of group individual studies, a single proposal may be submitted, assuming that all group members follow the same protocols. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of their proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.
This seminar, required for students in the Honors Program, relates works of criticism and theory to various literary texts, which may include several of those covered on the honors exam. The course seeks to extend the range of interpretive strategies available to students as they begin a major independent project in English literature or creative writing. The course is limited to students with a 3.33 GPA overall, a 3.5 cumulative GPA in English and an application to become an honors candidate in English. Enrollment limited to senior English majors in the Honors Program; exceptions by permission of the instructor. Undertaken in the fall semester; students register with the senior honors form as well as the individual study form. Permission of instructor and department chair required.
This seminar, required for students in the Honors Program, relates works of criticism and theory to various literary texts, which may include several of those covered on the honors exam. The course seeks to extend the range of interpretive strategies available to students as they begin a major independent project in English literature or creative writing. The course is limited to students with a 3.33 GPA overall, a 3.5 cumulative GPA in English and an application to become an honors candidate in English. Enrollment limited to senior English majors in the Honors Program; exceptions by permission of the instructor. Undertaken in the spring semester; students register with the senior honors form. Permission of instructor and department chair required.